Jeffery Kelly, PhD, the Lita Annenberg Hazen Professor of Chemistry at Scripps Research, has been awarded the Falling Walls Science Breakthroughs of the Year for his discoveries that have led to treatments for severe neurodegenerative diseases. Specifically, he is being recognized for his discovery of the drug tafamidis, which is the first FDA-approved treatment to slow the progression of familial amyloid polyneuropathy, as well as familial and sporadic TTR cardiomyopathy disease (a condition that ultimately causes heart failure).
Kelly is among ten winners in the Life Sciences category, whose discoveries represent “the latest breakthroughs and outstanding science projects.” The awardees were selected by a distinguished jury of other life science and academic leaders, who judged the nominees based on breakthrough potential, level of innovation, societal relevance and academic excellence.
At Scripps Research, Kelly is focused on understanding protein-folding mechanisms and ultimately developing therapeutic strategies that amend the misfolded proteins that aggregate into toxic structures in the body—a hallmark of severe diseases. His lab is also currently developing novel therapeutic strategies for degenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, and for loss-of-function diseases such as the lysosomal storage diseases.
Kelly has won numerous additional awards and honors for his groundbreaking research in protein misfolding and aggregation mechanics and multi-disciplinary therapeutic strategies. This includes the 2023 Wolf Prize in Chemistry, the 2022 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, the 2021 Royal Society Robert Robinson Award in Synthetic Organic Chemistry, the Edward E. Smissman Award from the American Chemical Society and the 2016 American Institute of Chemists Chemical Pioneer Award, among many others.
Kelly earned his PhD in organic chemistry at the University of North Carolina and went on to Rockefeller University for postdoctoral work. He joined Scripps Research in 1997, served as dean of the Skaggs Graduate School of Chemical and Biological Sciences and Vice President of Academic Affairs from 2000 to 2008.